The Palette

Why is Hamilton so popular?

Rachel Ruggera, Kathryn Sandberg, Staff Writers

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Fans crowd the box office at five in the morning and line the sidewalk for the next few blocks. Within a couple of hours, the show is sold out, and fans turn to resales with front row seats selling for $849 a ticket. Hamilton has quickly become Broadway’s most cherished and sought after musical for theater buffs, critiques and all Americans alike. Not only does it boast the highest ticket prices since The Book of Mormon, but it has had a cultural impact beyond the theater. This play by Lin-Manuel Miranda incorporates genres rarely used in musical theater and closes the gap between mainstream pop and Broadway performances. Hamilton tells the story of our country’s founding with a cast that represents the racially diverse, modern America of today.

 

For those who have never enjoyed musicals, Hamilton could be the exception. Most of the soundtrack features hip-hop and R&B music as it tells the story of an immigrant making a place for himself amidst war and political change. The songs and eccentric personalities of the actors add interest and character that was absent to politics during the 1800s. The play uses different musical styles for each character. For example, King George sings ballads of heartbreak for comic relief after his separation with the colonies. In contrast, presidential candidates and politicians have rap battles over proposed policies and taxes.

 

Broadway show tunes and this type of music were normally set apart from music on the radio, but Lin-Manuel Miranda has begun to close this gap. He has incorporated a more racially diverse cast compared to the typical white actors and directors of Broadway. Hamilton diverges from what a musical is expected to be while expanding on a story in American history. Some critics say this play is only more of the same: exemplifying the good moments in our history and brushing past the darker aspects. Though Hamilton does portray our founding fathers in an amiable light, it offers plenty of criticism on contemporary issues. When a black man can play George Washington on Broadway, this offers children of a minority race a new view of theater and of what they can aspire to be.

 

Sources:

Featured image from https://www.timeout.com/newyork/theater/hamilton-1

https://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/18/theater/review-in-hamilton-lin-manuel-miranda-forges-democracy-through-rap.html

www.chicagotribune.com/entertainment/theater/news/ct-more-hamilton-tickets-on-sale-20160921-story.html

 

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Why is Hamilton so popular?